San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park Road Trip Guide


San Diego is a fantastic place to start a road trip to Joshua Tree National Park. On the coast of the Pacific Ocean in southern California, the sunny city has a Mediterranean climate and an average temperature of 70 degrees. As a hotspot for travelers, San Diego has plenty to keep you busy with more than 20 museums, over a dozen theaters, opera houses, and symphonies.

Two miles to the northeast of the city, Balboa Park is full of fun with over 16 museums, attractions, trails, gardens, and performing arts. It is also home to the San Diego Zoo, where you can see over 60 different species like sloths, zebras, tigers, and bears. They even have some unique critters like the okapi, klipspringer, and the gelada.

For an even bigger park adventure, check out Belmont Park, about eight miles to the northwest. This large theme park has 12 carnival rides, a rock wall, ziplining, mini-golf, and a theater. If that’s not enough fun for your gang, go on over to Sea World right next door. With 16 rides including several coasters and thrill rides, animal shows, and a water park, this is enough fun to keep you busy all day. But you have to head out on your adventure, so just cut it to a few hours.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 1 days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest


Just under an hour up I-15, Temecula is a resort town famous for its Temecula Valley Wine Country, polo, and golf. The city was founded by Spanish Missionaries in 1798 and has grown to be a popular place to live as well as visit. With its warm climate year-round, outdoor activities are popular in Temecula. They have 39 parks with 22 miles of trails to explore. Some of these fun places include the Eagle Soar Playground and Splash Pad at Margarita Community Park on Margarita Road, Butterfield Stage Park on De Portola Road, and Redhawk Community Park on Redhawk Parkway.

Another great place for the whole family is Pennypickle’s Workshop at the Temecula Children’s Museum. This is probably the most interesting museum your kids will ever see with 7,500 square feet of hands-on experiments, gadgets, and inventions to explore and enjoy. For even more excitement, head over to Legoland, which has over 60 rides and attractions. Although this one may be difficult to drag yourself away from to head to your next stop.

Palm Springs

About an hour up I-215 to the northeast, the desert resort town of Palm Springs in Riverside County is known for the arts and culture, architecture, and recreational activities. Fun for the whole family can be found at Boomers, which is an awesome park with games, mini-golf, go-karts, and bumper boats. They even have a rock wall and batting cages for the older kids. How about a horseback ride? The Smoke Tree Stables lets you choose from different tours on horseback that the whole family will love.

After the games and rides, head over to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on Tramway Road and take a tram ride like you have never experienced before. You will be more than 8,500-feet up in the air in a rotating tram car where you can see as far as Las Vegas on a clear day. Bring your camera. Grab a bite to eat at the Forest View Restaurant at the top of the tram route above the clouds. Before leaving for your final destination, stop by Ladera Circle and see where Elvis Presley spent his honeymoon at Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway.


Another hour up CA-52, you are almost to your destination of Joshua Tree National Park. If you are staying the night here, go ahead and reserve your spot before heading out. Even though they have almost 400 campsites in four campgrounds, this is a very popular park and they all fill up fast. Especially on weekends and holidays. They also have about 100 first-come, first-served sites in four other campgrounds in case you didn’t book your spot.

Once you have your campsite set up, take a hike on one of the 26 trails. From easy to difficult, make sure you pick a trail that is right for everyone in the family before starting out. And always bring water no matter how short the trail is. You never know when you may need it. And you will definitely need some sunscreen. If you want to do some climbing, the park has over 8,000 climbing routes to choose from. Once again, bring water and wear sunscreen. You can also enjoy bike riding, ATV riding, and more horseback riding at Joshua Tree National Park.

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